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Getting to Know Musicians Better in 2019
MODERN journalism is all about quick...
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turnaround and smaller articles that are quite easy to read. We pitch articles and interviews that are digestible and do not really take up a lot of our times. There is a plethora of websites where you can find your musical fix and get all of the latest news. We do not need a lot of depth when it comes to news: just the essentials and make it as punchy as possible. A lot of album reviews tend to be fairly short and it can be difficult getting to grips based on the odd line here and there. I know there are music websites where contributors put the effort in and you do get a lot of depth but it is becoming rare as more and more music websites emerge. The consistent element I have discovered with music journalism is interviews that are pretty brief and sketchy. I am changing the way I interview and that I go after but, before now, my interviews have consisted quite a few questions that allow the musician(s) to go into detail and explore them from multiple angles. I have my standard questions and those easier ones but like to get to know the people behind the music. I have, until now, emailed interviews and it can even then be tricky discovering the real person. I did it that way for convenience and ease but it occurs to me there are not many people digging that deep and taking the time to explore musicians.
IN THIS PHOTO: Ellie Goulding/PHOTO CREDIT: Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP
Maybe modern journalism means we want that bitesize and brief interview where there are a few questions and we do not have to read for that long. I talked about this last year but I do wonder whether a new approach needs to be taken to interviewing. My anger, this time, has been fuelled by a rather brief interview that has been published in The Guardian with Ellie Goulding. She has been away from music for a while and, instead of a detailed and big interviewed; there are a few questions and it is not the most riveting piece you’ll read. I guess it is nice to see her back and you learn a few things from the interview – is it a missed opportunity? One of the reasons I decided to email interviews is because it gives artists more time to explore their answers and put some effort in. I am hoping to move to verbal interviews because I think there are so many sites out there that ask a few questions and that is it. Whether you are a brand-new artist or established musician then you have to ask whether interviews are pressing and long enough? I do not concede we are all looking for short and unchallenging when it comes to music journalism. Too often, you open a website or read a magazine and you get the same interviews with the same questions asked.
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There may be something out there but I wonder whether there is a YouTube channel or video series that sits down with artists and takes time to give them a problem good grilling. That might sound intense but I mean asking them about their musical past and current movements; go deep and get behind the real person. Maybe this applies to mainstream and established acts but I would love to see longer interviews that not only talk about current material and musical favourites but mix in that artist’s/band’s favourite sounds. I am excited to start a new project but I think, at the moment, there is a gap. Even new artists want to talk more and give the public a greater sense of who they are and where they came from. Journalism seems to be about providing these relatively short interviews that you can read without too much trouble and get a brief flavour of that person. Even when I hear musicians on the radio; there is always that ticking clock and it is always hard for D.J.s to squeeze too much in given the time constraints. I am looking around but not seeing too many options where we get to take away all the barriers and really get to know the artist. I am thinking about a podcast – whether it happens this year or not – where a musician/figure in the music industry is sat down and opened up.
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Current work would be dissected and discussed but it would go much further than that. By the end of the interview, I hope, you’d get to know so much you didn’t already know and a true impression of them. There is nothing wrong with short online interviews but I do often feel like there is a chance missed. For huge artists and those coming through; I think it would be good to see more interview series that take the time to probe and uncover. I am interested to learn what sounds musicians are influenced by and how their musical life started; if they have favourite records and what plans they have for the year ahead. I think we can go even further without testing patience and being too revealing. I am trying to rebel against rather brief journalism and pieces that are quite irreverent and do not really offer much new insight. Perhaps we have become use to a rather lazy style of journalism but I love interview series – usually involving filmmakers and actors – that take the time to get to know the subject. I think a new approach would make people more interested in music itself and mean we get to bond with that artist/band. As it is now, we flick through new releases and scroll through websites and do not really settle. Rather than go for the standard questions and these ‘tight’ articles; let’s sit down with the icons and best newcomers and really have a good chat. I think that could even translate into print and many would happily sit and read a more thorough interview if some great questions were asked. I think music journalists, in 2019, should resolve to take a different approach and sit back. It may like, on paper, musicians want a rather short and to-the-point interview but when you sit down with them and talk you’ll find they have an...
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AWFUL lot more to say.